Phenology: One of the Least Known Consequences of Climate Change

By Jeff Schaeffer | AFS Co-Chief Science Editor. E-mail: [email protected]

WINNER: 2014 Best Paper, North American Journal of Fisheries Management

StripedBass1Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate. Although everyone understands it intuitively (imagine looking for the first crocuses emerging from under the snow in your yard), it is one of the least understood impacts of climate change. Adam Peer and T. J. Miller of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science used a time series of Striped Bass Morone saxatilis gill net data obtained during spawning to examine how changes in climate might affect harvest in the fishery, which has a fixed opening date. They found that the onset of spawning was strongly linked with spring temperatures, larger fish spawned earlier, and cool springs increased harvest of larger, egg-bearing females. Thus, climate was linked strongly to fishing mortality in a way that was not accounted for given the fixed opening date. It was a good read, and the in-depth discussion that included spawning-phenology makes it a strong candidate for discussions of recruitment in any fisheries class.


Peer, A. C., and T. J. Miller. 2014. Climate change, migration phenology, and fisheries management interact with unanticipated consequences. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 34(1):94-110.

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